Communion - first or last?

by Richard Bending
from Signs of the Times No. 23 - Oct 2006

How strange it is that communion, which should be the symbol and expression of unity, can so easily become a focal point for division.

When we Christians disagree, we register that disagreement (if the issue is serious enough) by denying one another eucharistic hospitality. It may be the disagreement about homosexuality in the Church (which stands proxy, of course, for disagreement about how we use the Bible). It may be the ancient division between Roman Catholic Christians and Christians of other denominations, where eucharistic hospitality works in one direction but not in the other.

Read more ...

'Reclothed in our rightful mind?'

by Graham Blyth
from Signs of the Times No. 23 - Oct 2006

For most clergy perhaps the spectre of depressive illness rarely darkens their door.

They usually report high job-satisfaction, and often continue in fulfilling ministry during retirement. Despite the stresses and strains of parochial life clergy are often resilient; and many are sustained by what they often claim is an unshakeable personal faith.

However others are haunted by shadows. The decline in the number of stipendiary clergy, and rapidly-changing patterns of ministry already involve seismic shifts in the nature of our task ('task' rather than vocation) and the intensity of our workload. Anxiety about pensions, retirement housing and about the energy needed to 'keep the show on the road' are beginning to sap spiritual vitality. For many clergy 'burnout' is a likely outcome at least once during a long ministry (those who come into ministry later in life are probably better protected).

Read more ...

The dangers of certainty

Editorial by Jonathan Clatworthy
from Signs of the Times No. 23 - Oct 2006
[Reply by Lewis Stretch in Signs of the Times No. 24 - Jan 2007]

As the Anglican Communion continues to tear itself apart, one cause of dispute is the claim to certainty.

It baffles liberals. As long as we think we may be wrong, we accept that those who disagree with us may be at least partly right. We expect variations in belief and practice, and we take it that one of the arts of living together is to get along despite differences of opinion. It is when we think we know the truth with absolute certainty that the reasons for tolerating dissent evaporate. Despite the detailed theories of hermeneutics by evangelicals like Anthony Thiselton, the conviction that women or gay people cannot be bishops is characterized in public debate by certainty-claiming decrees of the type 'Scripture tells us the answer, so that settles the matter'.

Read more ...